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Alexis John Augustine Bachelot
Prefect Apostolic of the Sandwich Islands, b. at Grand Beauchet, commune of St. Cyr (Orne), France, 22 Feb., 1796; d. at sea, 5 Dec., 1837. He entered the preparatory seminary of Picpus (Paris) at the age of ten, and made vows in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts at Cahors on 2 Feb., 1813. At the completion of his theological studies in the Irish College at Paris, he was ordained priest in 1820, and forthwith appointed its rector. Four years later he was made superior of the preparatory seminary at Tours. When in 1825 the Propaganda entrusted the Picpus Fathers with the establishment of a mission in the Sandwich Islands, Father Bachelot was created the first prefect Apostolic of the new mission. On 20 Nov., 1826, he embarked at Bordeaux in company with Fathers Patrick Short and Abraham Armand and three lay brothers. They arrived off Honolulu, July, 1827, and though they were refused residence in the Islands, they landed while the matter was still under discussion by the chiefs. As matters remained in suspense for some time and no formal permission was forthcoming, the missionaries rented an enclosure containing three huts, removed their baggage from the vessel on 13 July, and Father Bachelot offered the first Mass in the Hawaiian Islands on the following morning. A fortnight after their arrival, La Plassard, captain of La Comete, was ordered before the queen, and commanded to re-embark the priests. This he refused to do, and departed before the missionaries could be forcibly put on board. The members of the Protestant mission which had been established in the Sandwich Islands seven years earlier saw with displeasure the arrival of the missionaries of a rival creed, and persuaded the chiefs to expel them. As a result Fathers Bachelot and Short (Father Armand having left for France in November, 1829) were forcibly embarked on the brig Waverly on 24 Dec., 1831. They landed at San Pedro Bay, California, on 21 Jan., 1832, and were received by the Franciscan Father then in charge of San Gabriel Mission. Father Short went to Monterey, where, conjointly with an English convert, Mr. Edw. Hartnell, he started a college; Father Bachelot remained at San Gabriel. After the death of the old Franciscan the Californian authorities offered Father Bachelot an annual net income of $3000 if he would consent to take charge of the mission. He agreed to remain, but refused the salary in order to be free to leave at any time.
On 28 March, 1837, Father Bachelot, having received information which seemed to warrant a fresh attempt to return to the Sandwich Islands, embarked with Father Short for them, and landed unmolested at Honolulu, 17 April. The missionaries obtained a provisional permission from the governor, Kekuanaoa, to remain on shore for some time; but on 29 April the king issued a proclamation stating that he would not permit papal missionaries to remain in his dominions, and ordered them to depart on the same vessel on which they had come. Father Short left Honolulu for Valparaiso on 30 October. Father Bachelot remained behind, intending to embark on a schooner, the near arrival of which had been announced. Meantime another priest of the same society, Father Maigret, arrived off Honolulu. The authorities forbade his landing. The vessel for which Father Bachelot was waiting having failed to appear, it became imperative to extricate both Father Maigret and the captain, who brought him, from a difficult situation. Father Bachelot decided therefore to purchase a small schooner, then lying in port. They rechristened the vessel the Notre-Dame de Paix, and sailed on it on 23 November. Father Bachelot, who was very ill at the time of embarkation, died during the voyage. On 13 Dec., the vessel arrived off Ponape, and on the following day the remains of the first Apostle of the Sandwich Islands were interred in the little island of Na, near the mouth of Metalanim harbour.
Father Bachelot is the author of an Hawaiian grammar and dictionary, "Notes grammaticales sur la langue sandwichoise suivies d'une collection de mots de la meme langue" (Paris, 1834), and two catechisms in the same language: "He Ninau ma ke Ao ana Kiritiano" (Catechism of the Christian Doctrine) and "He Ninauhoike no na Kakarema ahiku" (Catechism of the Seven Sacraments), both published at Macao in 1831; a second edition appeared at Paris, 1841. A prayer-book in the native tongue, printed together with this second edition and entitled, "Na Olelo Pule no ka Poe Kiritiano o ko Havaii Pae-aina" (Prayers for the Christians of the Hawaiian Archipelago), is also probably by the same author.
Annals of the Propagation of the Faith, vol. I; Supplement to the Sandwich Island Mirror (15 Jan., 1840), reprinted by the Catholic Truth Society (San Francisco, 1897); BINGHAM, Sandwich Islands (Hartford, 1848).